The International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame entertains and informs music buffs with one of the genre's only existing video libraries, along with 16 life-size oil paintings and scores of rock relics. Tour guide Henry Harrison schools guests on rockabilly music's greatest entertainers, revealing quirky facts and long-division problems that lend insight into the lives of luminaries such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and others. Listen as pompadoured performers tell tales of making music history through the hall of fame's video library, or view vibrant portraits of legends such as Sam Phillips and Shelby Singleton, the only owners of historic Sun Records. Peruse obscure artifacts from concerts and stage costumes, or model next year's yard display after the museum's Christmas-themed replica of Graceland. In addition to its interior exhibits, the Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame boasts vibrant exterior murals depicting Perkins and his original band, Sir Paul McCartney, and unruly mobs of teenagers trying to request the stars' e-mail addresses.
Dedicated to the legendary train engineer, Casey Jones Village features shops, attractions, and a museum rife with artifacts and anecdotes about Jackson's railroad history. Three authentic railcars are displayed prominently as mainstays from a different era, and children are encouraged to climb up on the engine and ring the train bell. A short film detailing the life of Casey Jones plays in the museum's theater, and a children's area entreats kids with wooden train sets so they can imagine they're piloting the first locomotive to shoot missiles at Saturn. After viewing the museum's offerings, guests can engage in other village attractions, such as mini golf, woodcarving demonstrations, and traditional treats at the antique-laden Brooke Shaw's Old Country Store. Before leaving, visitors can nosh on old-fashioned milk shakes and ice-cream sodas at the 1890s-inspired Ice Cream Parlor and Fudge Shoppe, voted one of the best 50 ice-cream parlors in the country by USA Today.
The interactive exhibits and programs compiled by the Pink Palace Family of Museums reinforce a mission that has stayed constant for 80 years: to "inspire people to learn how history, science, technology, and nature shape the Mid-South." Attached to Clarence Saunders' mansion built in the 1920s, the museum's permanent exhibits take an eclectic approach to chronicling the past, revealing everything from ancient fossils to contemporary southern history. Inside, visitors can chart the history of Memphis from the early Spanish explorers through the Civil War or walk through a replica of Saunders' original Piggly Wiggly—the country’s first self-service grocery store, and even see a shrunken head. Global adventures are chronicled on a four-story screen at the CTI-IMAX theater, and the Sharpe Planetarium explores the cosmos from the comfort of a 130-seat theater.
Traveling to east Memphis, one can discern the natural side of the Pink Palace Family of Museums. Lichterman Nature Center encompasses 65 acres of lush gardens filled with native wildflowers, trees, and wildlife. The center combines self-guided nature walks with plant sales and educational activities to expose visitors to the natural world.
When Jack and Marilyn Belz first stepped into a Los Angeles art gallery in 1968, it was their first step into a lifelong passion for Chinese art. Over the years, their collection grew so much that in 1998, they opened a museum that featured their expansive collection. According to the couple, "the intricate creations of Chinese artists rank among the most inspiring" to them. Visitors to the museum today find not only Chinese artwork from eras past, but also modern Judaica art.?
Named by Time Magazine as the most Authentic American Experience in Tennessee, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music is a state-of-the-art facility with films, videos, interactive exhibits, 2,500+ artifacts, and more to showcase the unique history of American soul music, and specifically that of Stax Records. Using video footage of sermons and early 20th-century gospel performances, the Roots of Soul exhibit investigates soul and gospel's close-knit relationship forged out of a mutual distaste for sea shanties, and a chronologically ordered stretch of 912 singles and 292 full-length albums adorns the winding Hall of Records. Elsewhere, the "Express Yourself" dance floor coaxes tapping toes and curmudgeonly steam engines to boogie along to continuous Soul Train footage, and inside the reconstructed Studio A, patrons glimpse the room where numerous Stax hits were recorded, accompanied by original instruments and samples of recording-session outtakes. Additional unearthed remnants include Albert King's Flying V purple guitar, a Mavis Staples stage dress, and Isaac Hayes's completely restored, gold-trimmed and fur-lined 1972 Cadillac El Dorado.
The perfect frame can make a work of art leap off of a wall. For the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the overall layout frames a 2,000-piece museum with 17 acres of lush English gardens. Tulip-lined walkways, scenic vistas, and the occasional sculpture surround visitors on tours of the Tennessee woodlands, where oaks and hickories climb towards the sky where all the good sunlight is. In total, more than 120 identified species of trees live and breathe within the gardens' level IV arboretum.
Even more sights await visitors behind the museum?s corinthian columns and brick fa?ade. Eight to ten rotating exhibitions a year hang alongside a permanent collection that touches on paper works, sculptures, and paintings by French and American impressionists?from Claude Monet to Mary Cassatt. Beyond these ever-present attractions, the museum also hosts live performances, educational programs, and other special events.